Firefighting and law enforcement resources in Mesa County were stretched thin last night as Independence Day festivities got out of control and the use of illegal fireworks abounded across the County.
A major brush fire that started at around 10:00 p.m. near 26 1/2 and G 1/2 Roads was actually at the west end of Chestnut Ave. The resident whose house was most in danger from the fire reported that a family across the street setting off illegal bottle rockets in the middle of Chestnut Ave. started the fire. One of the bottle rockets drifted on the wind and fell to the ground in the field behind their house, setting the brush on fire. Fortunately no structures were burned and no one, including any firefighters, were hurt. A firefighter on the scene Sunday reported that at 3:00 a.m. last night the flames were still three feet high, and that at one point the fire jumped a paved road, but firefighters were able to stop it. By 1:00 p.m. Sunday, four fire trucks, including a brush tender called down from Rifle, were still on the scene with a hose hooked up to a nearby fire hydrant, and the fire had been substantially put out. The fire burned a total of 11.28 acres.
Evidence of a second accidental fire being set last night due to fireworks use was apparent nearby at an apartment complex at 622 25 1/2 Road, just north of Pomona Elementary School. Dry landscaping had caught fire, very nearly setting trees next to the apartments on fire.
Lax law enforcement against the sale and use of illegal fireworks, combined with careless use and usually hot, dry weather endanger hundreds of people every Independence Day in Mesa County. Report use of illegal fireworks in your neighborhood immediately after first sight by calling 911.